Before I retired, I used to (as a hobby) keep and breed macaws. Now that I’m older and retired, I have 3 pet parrots… two that are macaws, and one that’s a Yellow Naped Amazon.
Parrots make great pets but, because of their intelligence, you have to give them a lot of time and stimulation. In many ways, they are a lot like dogs… except they can talk. I exercise all of my birds daily… taking them out of their large cages and moving up and down with them many times (as I simultaneously exercise). They have their own high definition TV in their room, where they like to watch things like The Muppets, Sesame Street, and Rock’n Learn (learning/phonics) videos.
Their intelligence is phenomenal! Makes me glad I’m a vegetarian… though I realize that certain birds, like chickens, don’t even come close to the intelligence of parrots. There are many other intelligent animals, including pigs and dogs. Tweety Pie, the bird pictured here, talks in complete sentences. She creates and makes up her own sentences and has great comprehension. Some birds just mimic; others have comprehension. For example, when we put on our coats or jackets to go outside, Tweety would ask: “Are you going to go bye-bye now?” … or “Can I go too?” We never taught her those questions; she came up with them herself; she says them with the right intonation for a question. She sings complete songs, like the “Oh what a beautiful morning” song and other songs including one by the Backstreet Boys. (I don’t even know the lyrics to that Backstreet Boys song, thank goodness.) Once, when I was in the living room and couldn’t get the Playstation to work, she said, “What seems to be the problem?” I said, “I can’t seem to get the TV to work right.” She then said, “Can I help?” Something else! Last night I kept the birds up a bit late because I was cleaning aquariums in their room. On two separate occasions I told the birds that they could “sleep in late”… (by me not turning on lights or opening window shades until later in the morning); after each of the two times that I told them that they could “sleep in late in the morning,” Tweety Pie” said “Thank You”! The night before, I asked the birds about which video they’d like to watch; I said, “What do you want to watch… Children Singing, Sesame Street, or The Muppets?” Tweety said, “Muppets.” So The Muppets were put on.
I tried to do videos of Tweety, but she won’t talk in front of a camera (at all). Once, when I worked (before retiring), I recorded her conversations on an audio recorder, took it to work for people to listen to, and people were totally amazed. (I included a couple of YouTube videos here — of other people’s parrot friends — for people to see, so that they can observe just how intelligent these birds can be; the ones in the videos are not against being video recorded.) Many of these birds don’t just mimic. Some, especially, have great comprehension. One of our macaws, Scarlet, talks and has great comprehension. When I was younger, I took her to work with me (to my classroom for the multiply handicapped); she would sit on my lap in the car, as I was driving, and was perfect in behavior in the car and in the classroom. Sometimes Scarlet calls for me by name, saying “Tom, come here,” and Marla, my wife, says that it sounds like I have another wife! Just last night, I had been playing a learning-video for them about colors, shapes, and counting, and as they (on the video) demonstrated counting to ten; Scarlet then, after they got up to ten, said “eleven.”
(See the videos below. The one of the African Grey Parrot, named Einstein, is one of many; to see other of her – she’s a female – videos, do a YouTube search on “Einstein Texan Talking Parrot”; there are other videos of another bird, that’s a show bird, named Einstein… but I like Einstein from Texas best.)
Tweety Pie. Photo by Thomas Peace c. 2015